If you are in the sciatica boat then this post is for you. A friend recently pinged me with a request to give some advice to one of their friends who was diagnosed with sciatica. Since I seem to meet people almost weekly who have had this painful condition I thought I'd post my response in the hope that it helps a few people out there.
I've got four things which have helped.
- walk a lot. If I take at least one 45 minute walk each day I feel a lot better. It gets blood moving in the lower back area which will loosen it up and will help deliver nutrients to the injured area to enable the body to heal itself.
- traction. Get an inversion table. Start out by hanging 3/4 upside down for a few minutes and gradually build up to 10 minutes twice per day upside down. Again, helps blood flow to the area, and also creates space between the lumbar discs. My sciatica is due to herniation at L5, so this helps greatly.
- yoga. Your friend could do pilates instead, but some kind of movement based yoga through a series of postures helps to create flexibility and stability in areas where it's been lost. The lack of flexibility in those areas contributed to my injury.
- IMS. This doesn't work for everyone but worked for me. It involves deep needle therapy along the back and legs. This resets the muscle-nerve interaction. Sometimes sciatica gets into a nasty feedback loop where the nerve fires due to trauma and becomes hypersensitive. It then continues to fire from the slightest irritation. I'm currently getting IMS treatments at the Centeno Schulz Pain Clinic in Westminister, Colorado.
Net is that I was practically unable to walk last May and this year I'm training for triathlons. The non-surgical route does take some time though and will go through lots of ups and downs, so he has to be patient with it. Good Luck!